Thanks for coming back to our partnerDRIVEN series. If you’ve been here before, you know we’ve been talking about what’s happening in Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and best practices to increase partner loyalty and performance.
So far we’ve covered three ways to increase partner engagement, the four biggest challenges for indirect sales channels, three signs your partner scorecard is underperforming, four keys to partner marketing and three strategies to maximize your marketing development funds. Today’s topic: eliminating the roadblocks in your buyer’s journey through better partner lead management.
But First: What’s Partner Lead Management?
If you’re selling B2B products, you’ve got sales leads coming in all the time. And if you’re selling those products through indirect sales channels, you’ve got partners doing the selling.
You need a way to generate, score, nurture and route leads to the appropriate sales team member within your partner network. That’s exactly what partner lead management does.
5 Types of Potential Roadblocks
Anything that disrupts your customer’s buyer’s journey is ultimately costing you revenue. Let’s take a look at some specific ways that can happen and what to do about it.
1. Customer Experience
Your customers don’t care how your business is structured. There is no difference in their minds between you and your partner sales teams. They expect a consistent experience when moving between corporate marketing, sales and partner channel representatives.
Potential Roadblock: There isn’t a seamless experience for your customers and prospects during the initial discovery phase. Remember, your customers shouldn’t notice any difference between corporate marketing campaigns or partner programs.
2. Lead Generation
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One way your business generates leads is through corporate web and digital platforms. This is done through content marketing, social media, your website, SEO, and paid search programs, and automated with marketing automation solutions. Once you’ve generated those leads, you can get them into the hands of your partners.
The Potential Roadblock: You’re not factoring the buyer journey into your lead generation activities. When you don’t, the hand-off from corporate marketing to partners can be a jarring experience to the customer. Corporate and partner marketing programs always need to be in sync.
3. Lead Scoring
How should you be scoring leads? By identifying your partners’ most qualified leads through a scoring model that incorporates both the prospect’s ability to buy and their level of engagement.
- Measure their ability to buy by finding out if they have purchasing decision authority and what their budget and timeline are.
- Measure their level of engagement by tracking their activities with your digital platforms and how they interact with your content (including clicks, page views, social shares and downloads, just to name a few).
The Potential Roadblock: You’re not measuring engagement. Lead scoring must include your customers’ engagement with partners, as well as with corporate marketing and field sales. When it doesn’t, you’re only getting half the story.
After all, your partners are an integral part of the customer’s buying journey. So it’s critical to include those interactions in your scoring model.
4. Lead Nurturing
Once you’ve identified your prospects, keep them engaged during their buying journey through lead nurturing.
That means systematically providing your leads with the information they need to make a decision. But obviously, with indirect sales channels, this effort becomes even more challenging.
The Potential Roadblock: Your customer can tell when he/she is being transitioned from corporate nurture programs to partner campaigns or sales teams. Nobody enjoys feeling like they’re being sold to, but that’s exactly how many customers feel during a bumpy handoff. It’s critical to align your corporate marketing campaigns and partner marketing programs to ensure the content that your customers receive is seamless.
5. Lead Routing
When a lead is ready for follow-up, how do you decide which partner to send the lead to? Most indirect sales channels are organized around territories, so leads should follow set criteria for routing to the right partner. Territories are often based on geography, product or partner tier.
The Potential Roadblock: You may be sending leads to the wrong partners. Without an automated lead routing solution, all the hard work you’ve put into lead generation and nurturing can go awry if those leads are not properly routed. Ensuring the right leads get to the right partner is a key part of partner lead management.
So How Do You Clear the Roadblocks?
With partnerDRIVEN, you can integrate both your corporate and partner lead management processes. The result? Everything works better for you, your partners and your customers.
- It’s streamlined. Managing leads through a single platform makes it easier for marketing, sales and your partner network to collaborate to close more deals and create a great customer experience.
- It’s integrated. Partner lead management is integrated with your partner marketing programs and MDF budgets to create a complete view of what’s driving revenue.
- It’s automated. Automating your lead nurture campaigns gives your marketing team control of the brand and message. And that makes it easy on your field sales team and partners to keep the conversation going with your customers.
Where are you losing customers along their journey? How much more revenue could you generate with a better partner lead management program? Connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d like to talk. And come back next time to learn more about the technology behind partnerDRIVEN.